There’s tons that’s still up in the air for Brian Maloney.
The hockey boss of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs knows his team is scheduled to begin a shortened 44 game season in early December.
Beyond that, uncertainty.
Will players coming from the United States be allowed to cross the border? What will practices and games look like with physical distancing guidelines? Will the Wenatchee Wild be a thing in 2020-21?
“There’s just so much we don’t know yet,” he said with a frown.
Maloney has had lots of time to think about how the season might unfold if the pandemic gets out of the way.
Canadian-based players will be rolling in over the next two weeks, diving into informal skates and workouts. The Chiefs are allowed to commence ‘official’ team activities Sept. 8, allowing Maloney to put his focus back where he wants it to be – on hockey.
“To be honest with you, and I know it sounds ridiculous, I think it’s going to be better for the development of the players,” Maloney said, surveying the situation. “We’re going to be able to have them on the ice maybe a couple times a day and the kids are going to be able to train a little bit harder through September and October and put more mass on their frames before the season starts.
“Come December, I know in Chilliwack our guys are going to be in phenomenal shape.”
Maloney and associate head coach Brad Rihela have a highly-detailed plan in place. In many ways it mirrors the plan Maloney helped to craft in the weeks leading up to the 2018 Royal Bank Cup.
“They (the players) aren’t going to show up here, throw on the skates and go through the motions,” Maloney said. “We’re going to set the tone early as far as work ethic. We’re going to spend more time on video and skills development because we won’t be spending as much time traveling back from Merritt and stuff like that.”
As far as practices go, Maloney plans to have more split-squad activities.
“We’ll have a couple groups, because we can’t have 30 players ripping around the ice,” he said. “There are some local kids we want to have a look at and see how they compete against our guys, so we’ll do some split-squad stuff.
“We’re planning out the first month today, and a lot of it is going to be gym work and skills development – fun but hard activity that will keep them mentally sharp.”
Trainer Brian Patafie will be charged with taking player temperatures each time they come in and out of the Chilliwack Coliseum and making sure COVID guidelines are followed.
“As much as Brian is a funny guy, he’s also very strict,” Maloney laughed. “The first day we had spring camp there was a kid who showed up with a high temperature, and Brian turned him around and sent him to a doctor.
“I can’t speak to what other teams will be doing, but the Chilliwack Chiefs will be doing things the right way.”
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